King Duncan Had Less Than I Did, I Assure You

Your Auntie Ann has some advice for you: do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, get yourself born with two uteri, medicate yourself with drugs to markedly increase the plump vascularity of your endometrium for 5 long weeks, and then eject the lot in a 16-hour bleedathon.

You will end up in hospital on IV fluids with a blood pressure of approximately Bugger over Fuck. 

I had what the older generation would classify as a ‘funny turn’ on Wednesday evening which continued until, on Thursday morning, I suddenly and painlessly lost what I then thought to be a significant number of large clots. (Ah, naive child! Such inexperience!)

The absence of any real cramping had caught me on the hop, and I thought we’d left it too late to reach hospital. There followed the most horrendous 30+ mile journey in rush-hour traffic, and, as my head was still in the funny-turn-fall-over stage, the profound and ultimate sinless public shame of being carted through the thronged main doors at 9.30am in a wheelchair, with bed hair. What expression are you supposed to adopt, for crying out loud? Stoic? Pained? Helpless? In retrospect, I should have simply feigned unconsciousness, slumped artistically, and welded my eyes firmly shut against the indignity.

Naturally, as soon as I arrived on the ward, uterine action ceased, and it was only after much to-ing and fro-ing, and – despite the Prof’s detailed but illegible notes – having, as usual, to work my explaining way up the ranks (No, you cannot send me to theatre. No, you are indeed unable to visualise that cervix. Yes, I have done this before.) that we agreed that trekking home again with a half-open cervix wasn’t an option compatible with cytogenetics (Yes, I am clearly written up for fetal karyotyping. No, I do not need to justify this decision to a Registrar. Go and ring my Professor.) and that I may as well start misoprostol a day sooner than planned. By the time the ward bed-block resolved and I moved into a room of my own, it was early afternoon, and I’d sent John home (it was, unamusingly, his 39th birthday; watching bleeding wives is not quite his metier plus Harry needed collecting) and settled down with my book for the long haul.

I did very well with the misoprostol, all things being considered. I hung onto the loading dose of 4 dissolvable tablets for approximately half an hour, before brisk southbound vaginal traffic bulldozed them back out, intact, into one of a long series of horrifyingly weighty bedpans, where the sight of them caused me a moment’s perplexed What The Hell? That 30 minutes, however, was just enough to nudge things along very gently, and by the time the second dose fell due at 4pm, I knew the sac was imminent and wouldn’t take it.

There was puzzlingly, weirdly little pain, from start to finish, and at absolutely no point did I need pain relief, although I eventually accepted some paracetamol simply to keep my nurse quiet about it for the next 4 hours. There was mild dismay from the staff regarding the sheer unbelievable quantity of… output. The veteran of two previous losses – with a double uterus, moreover – at about this gestation, I was initially fairly sanguine, but even I began to stare in increasing consternation as it just kept. on. coming. Agitated, I began to feverishly review my knowledge of Basic Anatomy, and even allowing for my distinguishing deviation from it, could not work out how several quarts-worth of endometrial wall could be so busily decanting from two little pint pots, especially as only one of them even felt active. I vaguely wondered if it was time to look for higher ground.

Of course, there is only so much of this sort of thing that a body can take before Exhibiting Complaint, and by dinner time I was towing a wheeled IV stand on my frequent staggers to the bathroom. By bedtime I was clutching it as a walking aid. By the time my uterus decided that it was, broadly speaking, finished, I was darkly cursing the drip fluids that kept relentlessly filling my bladder and driving me out of bed. By 1am, I was exhausted enough to drift off for a couple of hours – no thanks to the usual hospital clatter and clamour and the dear lady across the hall who snored like a jet engine being tested to destruct, but probably some thanks to rubbish blood pressure.  

Anyhoo. By the time breakfast rolled around, I felt a lot better, bleeding had slowed dramatically, and after short commons the previous day, I fell on breakfast and demolished it. I was keen to ensure that correct cytogenetics paperwork had been completed, and, that done, depart. Fat chance: everyone had the immortal rind to be stupidly busy. By 11am, I hadn’t seen a medical soul since 6am except for the phlebotomist (I have no idea why they still wanted full blood counts at that point, and neither had she when I enquired, but I held an arm out unbegrudgingly nevertheless.) so I removed my own IV and started politely agitating at the desk – neither action quite endeared me to Sister.

Eventually I recruited a delightful young SHO who cheerfully grappled with the cytogenetics paperwork – evidently not something anyone was familiar with – and tried his best to calm my worries that after 20 hours in the fridge already, Turbo’d be useless by the time the pot arrived anywhere.

I was finally sprung at lunchtime. I came home. I slept. Nagging nausea is still an issue, but I feel nearly human again – or did, until I saw the news, which upset me back at the time.

In terms of where we go from here, I honestly don’t know. We haven’t discussed it, although I have booked an IVF follow up appointment with the Consultant who had the titanic struggle with my transfer. The Prof (primarily an obstetrician) said she was happy to manage scans of any future pregnancy but was, bizarrely, ‘too depressed’ by events to discuss the actual way ahead – if there still is one for us. After consultation with Transfer King Consultant over management of miscarriage, she brought back a message that he was devastated to learn our news, but was still very upbeat about the future. Given that A) he is an absolutely delightful chap, B) he doesn’t seem to want to give up on me, C) he is the only senior consultant in the unit I haven’t yet seen, and D) he was so spectacularly nice to Harry when they met: we’ll go see him in a few weeks.

Life is full. But I feel, in every possible sense, very empty.

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